Sprains and strains remains the most common injury in the workplace. In recent studies, they accounted for 41 percent of all workplace injuries requiring days out of work. In fact, more than 4 out of 10 of injuries and illnesses were sprains or strains, most involving overexertion or falls. A major cause of sprains and strains is the use of improper lifting techniques. Therefore, it is important to learn how to properly lift heavy objects and to ask for help if you cannot lift the object on your own. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) an injury or disorder of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, or spinal disks accounted for 30% of the injuries and illnesses requiring days off work. The most common workplace illnesses are cancers from exposure to hazardous substances, musculoskeletal diseases, and respiratory diseases caused by exposure to pathogens, and hearing loss. Asbestos-related disease such as lung cancer and asbestosis caused by inhalation of asbestos are also common. Workplace illnesses pose a greater problem because you may not have symptoms until years after the damage was caused. You may no longer work for that employer and they may attempt to argue that the cause of the disease was elsewhere.
How Accidents Happen
Improper storage of supplies and merchandise can lead to accidents. Cleaning materials, toner, and other toxic chemicals needs to be properly stored. They should not be stored with supplies such as paper and pens. Employees must be trained on how to store toxic chemicals so to limit exposure. Electrical burns are also a common cause of workplace accidents.
Workplace burns account for 20%-25% of all serious burns requiring hospital attention and they account for about 5% of all workplace deaths. Make sure you are fully trained on how to use electrical equipment and that all electrical equipment has clearly displayed warnings on them to prevent electrical burns. Thermal workplace burns result in skin burns and are caused by scalding from such things as grease and boiling water, open flames, and explosions. Chemical burns result in a severe type of burn and can occur when skin or eyes come into contact with strong acids. Remember to wear protective clothing and eye goggles to prevent this from happening.
Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of work-related death. If you drive for a living or use your vehicle during work hours to drive to meetings, remember not to multi-task while driving. Do not use your mobile phone while behind the wheel and, especially if itís a long trip, stop and stretch every two hours or pull over and take a 20 minute rest.
You may think that workplace safety only needs to be addressed by companies that perform dangerous activities, such as mills, factories, and auto manufacturers. Office jobs also pose threats to your safety due to your lack of movement since you find yourself sitting in one place for a long period of time. You want to make sure your chair is at a proper height so you can reach your keyboard while maintaining good posture. Also, if you have to stare at a computer monitor, you can develop problems with your vision. It is important to have a thorough eye examination every year and refrain from sitting too close to the monitor. You may also want to reduce the glare on your computer monitor and allow for breaks during your workday.
Cluttered work areas are also a way accidents can happen. Sharp instruments such as letter openers or box cutters can be on a messy desk and you would not even know it until you already suffer an injury.
How to prevent accidents from happening in the future
Have emergency medical supplies on hand
Report the injury
There must be a process put in place to report accidents to help identify the cause(s) of the accident. This will help prevent a similar occurrence in the future. You should find out if there is a safety committee. Every employee who sees an unsafe or hazardous condition at work needs to go to the safety committee to report it. This will play an important role in the prevention of workplace accidents. If your employer does not have a safety committee, you should suggest the formation of such a committee.
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